Focus On: Choices in Childbirth

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Choices in Childbirth (CIC) is a 501 c(3) organization founded in 2003. The mission of CIC is,

“…to improve maternity care though education, outreach and advocacy. We help expectant parents make informed decisions about where, how and with whom to birth; and we actively work to ensure access to childbirth services and options that support healthy birth outcomes.”

CIC works diligently and effectively to spread the word thatMother-Friendly childbirth services are available to women throughout New York State and nationally. Their mission and motivation arise directly from The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative, the first consensus initiative of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). In 2003 when the last remaining freestanding birthing center closed in New York City, a group of dedicated doulas got together and Choices in Childbirth was “born.”

Since its inception, CIC has been instrumental in raising public awareness about Mother-Friendly maternity care and rallying public support for Mother-Friendly childbirth services. In 2010, the Midwifery Modernization Act was stalled in the New York State congress. The bill would update midwifery practice guidelines and remove the clause in practice licensure requiring that practicing midwives obtain a written practice agreement with an obstetrician or obstetrical practice in order to be able to practice midwifery. Many obstetricians refused to sign such an agreement. Many who agreed to provide written agreements saw their liability insurance policies soar, prohibiting them from providing the written agreement. In 2010, St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in Greenwich Village, a staunch supporter of midwives with many of its obstetricians providing practice agreements with midwives closed, leaving women in New York City without any readily available midwifery care.

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The closure of St. Vincent’s resulted in CIC launching a grassroots public awareness and lobbying campaign. By diligently educating the public about the lack of choices in obstetrical care for the women of New York, CIC successfully created a public outcry to the New York legislature, flooding their offices with phone calls, faxes and e-mails. The Midwifery Modernization Act passed with revised practice guidelines for midwives and without the written practice agreement requirement. It was a huge victory for CIC, for midwifery in New York State and for the childbearing women of New York State.

CIC has developed Guide to a Healthy Birth (one version for New York and one national version) to educate women about birth options, mother friendly services and mother friendly providers. These guides offer questions women should ask and qualities women should consider when selecting a childbirth provider. They also contain information and statistics about maternity services and maternity providers by state, regionally and nationally.

CIC will hold its first fundraiser, The Concert for a Healthy Birth, on Monday, May 9th, 2011 in lower Manhattan. The Guest host will be Ricki Lake and the organization will be honoring Christiane Northrup, MD for her groundbreaking work in obstetrics and gynecology and former supermodel Christy Turlington-Burns for her documentary, No Woman No Cry.

**This summary comes from a full-length podcast interview with CIC President Élan McAllister and is available at www.mamasonbedrest.com/podcasts.

Posted by: Darline Turner-Lee, Owner and Founder
Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond

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